during the event for the 2012 euros renner road book fast, this is just under an hour.intes >> when i told people is going to be interviewing gail collins, almost every person said she's! so much fun. so gail collins is known as thee sun columnist at "the new yorkh. times." the one you'd actually like to have a with and the one that seems to mean normal. yonegail isn't really normal. the truth is she comes across as normal, but anyone s. project initiatives is not normal in thn indditu nir. she has just written a new book in addition to writing a columne twice a week for "the new york of " times," she was the first female
editor of "the new york times" editorial pages. is. not there's a million other things i could tell you about her, but the bottom line is notgail norm. gail, come on up here. [app base.ur fan [applause] >> thank you. i'm worried about these microphones. they're not working.pers microphones not working.be -- t- how that's work. i wonder if i took one of your miervegs. it's here. we have it. whoever it did that, thank you. you saved our day. can i thank all you guys for having me here today. it is so seldom i get to come to chicago. i love chicago so much, and, you know, it's like when you're covering elections, i'm always in florida or iowa or something you never get to come to chicago. it's a real treat to be here. thank you.
>> before we get to the hard stuff, i want to ask you a question. are you as fun as everyone thinks. >> my husband lived under this burden for a long time. he said people are coming up to him and saying wow, it must be a laugh a minute at your house. [laughter] and he says, no, she's not always that entertaining. no, no. >> let's talk about more serious. gail's new book which is a entertaining but serious read texas texas goes. we talked about the premise of the book. it all sorted of started. >> you probably remember the rick pear's succession moment he called for vai lantly ambushed
the federal government in front of a large crowd. he said something like no, we have a fine union. there's no talk of leaving. if washington continues to do the terrible things its doing who knows what will happen. i did not regard it as a real commitment. if you're married and your spouse says there's nothing wrong with this marriage. there's no reason to dissolve it. if you continue to behave in the unsatisfactory manner it wasn't good. i thought about that and i thought about wow, if you look back over the last thirty years, texas has pretty much dominated the national yeand -- agenda. if you look at the savings and loan crisis in the '80s it started when ronald region -- charters of the texas. he did that because he felt that the texas ones were profitable.
no, he no noticed the texas ones were all cooking the books that's why they were doing so well. and i kind of looked at that, there was a piece of that story in which the guy from the worse of all burdened savings and loan which is called vermin savings and loan went on trial. his defense against the charge that he hired a a prostitute to entertained the bank regulators was that the bank regulator had not been able to rise to the occasion. therefore, it was not a bribe in any way shape or form. i looked and thought, gosh, you have to like a state like that. and then i looked at the deregulation of the banks and of all the financial markets and there's 10 there will people involved in that obviously. a large finger in the pie with senator phil graham of texas who was head of the banking committee. i had the privilege, possible i
the only journalist in the world who had the privilege being on the campaign tour in '95 which lasted as about as long as this program is going to last. and then, no child left behind, our federal program for public schools schools are organized around the way texas schools were organized during the george bush period. energy, the environment, all the land wars and sense -- since vietnam all the stuff comes somehow or another from texas. i think we underestimated what a huge influence this state is on the rest of the country. >> one of the points that you made that was most intriguing to me and most pert nentd to people in chicago was the whole charter school movement really got its birth, got nurtured in texas. talk to us a little bit about that. >> yeah, the fascinating thing about the -- what happened in
texas was a stage thing you might find familiar. back in the '80s texas schools were a dismal and movement under ross per row was organized and the basis of the movement was get more money for the schools. let's make them smaller, increase teacher pay, let's bring texas boo the 20th century. and because per row was crazy and rich they managed to get it done. it was a huge reform. the second reform followed for reorganization of the way the schools were funderred to reflect the wealth of the communities. and which they had to gate new tax, more money poured into the schools. at that point, the business community said wait minute. all the money going in, we want accountability. there was a combination of more money and accountability which basically met more tests. in texas, i talked to the people who were involved in that reform period, and their vision was,
there will be testing, and in the community will goat see the tests and the parents will see the tests and the teachers and know which kids need help. if the parents are unhappy with the neighborhood schools they can do something about it. there was never any thought that there would be large closed down the school consequences. it didn't come out what they thought was a texas experience. but the people from the texas business counsels who were working on the programs many of them went to washington with george w. bush. one of them became the lead negotiator on the no child left behind bill. became the lobbiest for peerson the large testing corporation. about the charter school part of the whole deal. i talk to the people who negotiated the bill on the charter schools. nobody ever thought there was going to be a private sector involvement in the charleser --
charter school movement. everybody inhavingsed nonprofits would come in and take over a few schools and it would be a good way to innovate. nobody said internet schooling run bay private corporation who sets an anchor at some on secure school district in tennessee and announces it's a real public school. the amount of 0 private money -- that's going to the public school system is one the biggest consequences of no child left behind. it was something that the people at least in congress who put it together had no thought about. it was not in their picture at all. >> it all comes out of texas? >> yes, it all came out of texas. when you started the book how much time had you spent in texas? >> before i started the book, i spent very little in time texas. i spent quite a bit, it is a fastly written book.
i spent most of last summer in texas which was a bad career choice. [laughter] let me plan my life so i will in houston for the month of july. [laughter] it was completely crazy. but that's what i did. it's a totally outer view. i'm not explaining texas to texans. i could never do that. i'm talking to the rest of us about what it mean -- what texas means to the rest of the country, and what the great cry from texas of states rights means to the rest of the country. >> talk about the negotiation of empty bases. us a all of the things that come out of texas you attribute too the philosophy of empty spaces that guides life in texas. >> yeah, i've always liked since i started looking at congress long ago to divide the country between the empty spaces because it makes everything seem more reasonable. crowded spaces people appreciate
government. because they can see that government does stuff to help them every day. it protects them from burglars, it keeps dogs from pooping on the sidewalk, and stuff suers from exploding and runs the schools. everywhere you go, and most people in crowded places when they complain about government they complain there's not enough i don't know where they stopping dogs from peeing on the sidewalk. it expands and expands. people from empty places who perceive themselves z being in empty places don't see any point really to government outside of a war now and then. because if a burglar breaks in their house, they're going have to shot the particular. they have no police coming. there's no sense that somebody is going to mess up the land because there's nobody they can see in the outside world. if you are a in a empty place, the vision makes perfect sense. the problem for the empty places 0 people if you're empty you don't have any people you don't
have much political power outside the united states senate where you can have two senators for four people if you're wisconsin. i swear. [laughter] you can be an empty place person if you live in tampa, florida. the great thing about texas, there's 26 million people there and 80% of them live in metropolitan regions, they think they are in empty places. it feels like an empty place. if you ever go houston, it has 2 million people. because it has no zoning you walk along and there's an empty part. there's no organized development. if you drive from one city to another, if you commute to work, it could be 70 miles. they think nothing of driving 300 miles to football game. there's a sense of emptiness. and that combined with the their own conservative preed elections, combined with the size of the place, combined with
the wealth of the place, combined with the natch intensity of texans everything about has made them really the center, i think, of political power in the country right now. >> to me, the most intriguing thing in gail's book is in the final chapters, when she talks about it's already a majority, minority state and will be a majority hispanic strait which is the direction that the country is going. it talk to us about the shift in texas what that means and what it might mean for the rest of us. >> you know, texas could get this one thing right, they would have absolved at least what i perceive as the sins. texas is not crazy on immigration the way say arizona is crazy on immigration. texans are comfortable with the idea of a large hispanic culture. they're not -- you may have seen
the debate want first republican debate in which romney turned on rick perry and said you in texas you allow illegal children to go to texas schools and qualify as state residences when they want to go to college. that's amnesty. and everybody started piling on rick pear i are. he looked so puzzled. that's not a texas law. all rick had done was follow the money the business community wanted the program. he didn't know it was bipartisan. he didn't know he was doing anything interested when he supported it. there was a sense of texas is more sane when it comes to hispanic integration than many parts at least border part of the country. but when it's not done is integrate two things. not integrated the hispanic residences into the political and business power structure in the way you would expect by now. and two, it's not doing the job of educating young hispanic
children that it needs to do if they are going to become critical skills workers for the next generation. right now texas imports college graduates. it imports as many as it creates on the own. when you are paying to help make the universities in illinois top tier universities you are paying to help staff businesses in texas. a lot of your graduates are going to wind up down there. unless texas and tees up and steps up to the education plate. in the future 10% of the education is going to be texas bread. that's when we go south. >> did you worry about in writing the book you were playing to certain stereo types about texans. >> sort of. you know, texans, i knew from the beginning everybody hates anybody from the outside coming into the place and making fun of it.
or crirt sizing it or -- criticizing or generalizing about it. we would hate it. i would hate it in new york. people do do it about new york city every day. still, your sensitive to that. but texas' image texas' sense of self is very, very intense. i'm always freaked out where i go there how much people identify themselves as texans. i will be willing to bet you think of yourself as chicagoans not illinois begans. i group in ohio i was happy there. but nobody ran around saying don't mess with ohio. i never met a going ohio, ohio, ohio, the way perry goes texas, texas, texas. they work on that themselves to some degree, too, you know, and i hope that i was pretty clear in the book there's no actual obvious person in texas every
texan is different as is everyone else. they do think as themselves as texans first. let's move from texas to ohio. you grew up in cincinnati. in a catholic family, you went to catholic schools, basically your whole life. describe yourself gail gleason, that's who you were when you were growing up. who was that girl? you were born in a time where there weren't a lot of women in public life. where women with opinions at some point learned to keep them in the house. who were you then were you an opinionated little girl in were you fun. >> i was always so fun. [laughter] you should ask my siblings whether i was fun or not. i'm the oldest. but, you know, the interesting thing when i look back on, i can't imagine writing my memoirs. the times i recall now was growing up right after when the
baby boom was beginning in a suburb that was composed entirely of people couples between the age of 25 and 35 all of whom who had two to six kids. and every morning the husband would go off to work at the beginning. it they only had one car. there was a stranded island as far as you can see of women and children, and, you know, they had a rolling grocery store, the go had a bus he put shelves on because nobody could get to the stores every day. he would come and bring you baked beans or whatever you needed that day. it was an intense environment. i don't think we'll ever see again. it was a time when everybody's economy was doing better. everybody getting wealthier. everybody had great expectations for the future, although, compared to now, the expectations were so minimal, you know. some day there would be a second bedroom in the house was a great
expectations. even though the people were middle class people. >> did you have a sense as being limited as a girl. your life as a woman as a writer which you apparently started doing when you were little would be little bitted? did you not recognize that? >> no. my mother was alwaysmented to be a writer. she was am birns for -- ambitious for all the kids. because i came first and i was around for so long without anybody else. she was stuck in the suburb she spent a lot of time -- conservative who is liberal who has been mugged. my definition of liberal is a conservative who had twin daughters, you know. i do know not many men of the jen ration when they looked at their daughter who said they won't do anything except become a mom. the exec tastes were great back then. >> how did growing up catholic affect you who are now.
>> i can tell you the nones were great on grammar. i can -- i don't know if you went to catholic schools. i did gram sentences are two paragraphs long going on forever. i noticed in general, i got to say, when i was at the daily news, i was a come limb nist with there bob whom some of you know is african-american and juan gonzalez and jimmy there. they were excited to managed to come up with a i do verse team of come lom nist they advertised us as rainbow coalition. they kept saying never before has there been so much diversity. we talked one day we all had gone to catholic schools. there's something there, i got tell you. >> do you feel that being a female cool column nist makes you different at all? >> years ago somebody from voig or one of the women's magazine
called me and said you and maureen doubt are the times that use humor in cool lum. do you think it deals with being women. they wanted me to say ha we i did flect our aggressiveness. i thought about my own career. when i started using humor was in i was connecticut covering the state legislature. do you know how hard it is to get anybody to read about the connecticut state legislature? it was -- there was a scandal i that were clean. it was hard. to trish who was my partner we would sit there every night and say, well, maybe we could do a quiz or, you know, we could do a po yem. they'd read a pow yem. finally i found the humor worked the best. it's easier to explain things that people don't want to read about like charter revision.
by being funny. >> do you worry that humor undermines your serious points? people going read paul and he's earnist i'm going to take it seriously if gail is making a joke i'm entertained. >> paul has a nobel prize. [laughter] i think he gets to be pretty earnest at that point in time. it's okay. [laughter] i don't know the other thing i used to think when i got into the column writing business i was more angry about stuff or seemed more angry. at some point along the way, i forget what was happening in new york. i thought it was bad, i thought i don't want to write anymore columns that make people want to go bang their heads against the wall or move to finland, i mean, i want to write stuff that will leave people feeling more cheerful about the role as a citizens. and that's kind of been my little mission over the years, i would say.
>> you're jrnlg designated liberal. do you accept that term. what does it mean to you. >> yeah. you you'd have to be kind of really, really an open-minded person to suggest that i'm not sort of liberal in the things they write about. yeah, and to me, i believe in government, i believe government should be efficient, and accomplish things. i believe government does good. i believe in community. i believe -- [applause] see crowded people places are here. i believe in crowded places and everybody working together to try to get things done. >> one of the things people love about what you do is your conversations with david brooks. >> he is so sweet. university of chicago. >> as a reader of the columns, it does make me hopeful for the future that people who disagree politically could actually speak to each other civilly. tell us about how it got started
and why you do it. tell us the truth about david brooks. what's he really like? >> david brookings is such a pumpkin. i love him. i hired him, actually. i was proud of that i was editor. bill had retired, and it was not actually a big secret we were looking far republican columnist. and the trick with the times and "times," the readership of the "times" people who read the opinion page tend to be more liberal than not. and i wanted to find a conservative columnist people would read even if they degreed with them. there was so many out there i could put in the paper. people looked at it and throw it down and walk away. david was -- he's very good at he grew up in the lower east side of new york. his parents were hippies. he went to chicago, as i told you. he knows -- he is the conservative but knows how to
talk to the liberals. he's great that way. and we both think it's the most fun thing we do in the week. we have a great editor. it's pretty ease to do it the back and forth. and people like to -- they like it because they like the fact that we have fun with it and we're not trying to kill each other. >> tell us one thing about him that would surprise us. >> david, wow. he's pretty open about stuff. he is a new yorker, he went to some school. the entire background was completely strange and bizarre for a guy who turned out to be a strong member of the washington establish. he believes many moderation and bipartisan. and his heart is broken every day by somebody doing something. [laughter] my kind of guy. >> you don't file late. >> i don't general file late. i general file on time. >> you've written a book about
women in politics. tell us what you think about the landscape out there for women right now. when are we going to see a female president? >> well, i mean, frankly, depends on what hillary wants to do. i mean you could see a female president in four years. >> do you think he's? she's in the mix. >> i think she is really, really, really tired. she worked like a mania, you can see it in her face. and she has every secretary of states get tired. she puts in the extra mile and a half. and i would suspect she's going go back and, you know, spend year or two doing, you know, virtuous things. and then she'll think about it. i would suspect in a year or two, she's going to feel better than she feels right flow. and . >> would she make a good president? >> i think she really would. i really -- i must -- i have to say during the last time around, the things she said she
disagreed with president obama she was generally right, you know. and that's .. the partisan blockade any better quiets >> to tell you the truth, i think if she had been president over the last four years we would not have liked this, which would depending how you have it be a more modest change in how
fun being an stuff like that, but i don't than she would've taken that we. more st i think it is a tribute to him that he took that leap.as that doesn't stay together right now and will never happen in our lifetime. so one night stands, he was aron hero. in that sense, he was a hero. if it turns out that the thing gets knocked out by the courts or by congress in the future, then he will have made a bad guess. many people in congress on around -- democrats, saying that we have looked at the statistics in the number of voters who are not covered by insurance who will be helped by this bill. it is like 3% or something like that. the people who are helped by this bill are not voters in general. people who go to vote.
that could be a very depressing take on the whole possibility. there is a sense among the democrats in congress but they are not getting any political list from the spell. if you can make it happen, it will be the greatest triumph since lyndon johnson on his legislation. >> on that note, we have a few moments for questions. >> can you talk a little bit about and richards? >> i can do that. among the liberal population, which there is a liberal population in texas, and they survive today doing better than other endangered species in texas. molly ivins and and richards are the two names that always. they are the heart of what everybody remembers is the
liberals in texas. she did great things, reforms and other things that were amazing. by the time she had gone to be governor, if have already changed. the politics of the state had already flipped. it was amazing to me, not that she didn't get elected the second time, but that she got elected at all and managed to get stuff done while she was there. since 1994, there has not been a single democrat elected to a statewide office in texas, which means they have gone over 99. they elect a bunch of people in texas. she was a woman fighting against the tide. go ahead. >> can you talk a little bit about some of your proposed solutions to the problem that he presented it texas controlled the entire country?
in the way that it is sweeping ie country as you put .. i tried to poke through at in this book with the question of states rights, which is the bottom of both the tea party philosophy, the republican philosophy and the rest. if you look at all the stuff, i was trying to find out how many of the things that happened in texas sloshed over and affect the rest of us, beyond the sense that we are all in this together and want to act as a nation. texas has declared war on family they are down to $10 million, $12 million for the entire state, twenty-six million people, nothing. which is you could argue texas is right except that 60% of all
the children born in texas now are born in medicaid funded deliveries because people are so poor. and children go on to be educated and we pay for part of that medicaid funding and i am very proud that as americans we pay to support health care for poor women about to deliver babies. but it would seem to me that gives a billion dollars a year would seem to be if we are chipping in we deserve at least some say in states being affected in family-planning services and sex education in their high school switch also in texas is really strange. those kinds of things if we start to talk about that, if everybody is aware of how much one state does influences another if we can attack this question of states' rights, right where it is. some things really are state rights but it has been way
overblown. that would be my first argument. think about states' rights. what do you really have as a right as a state and what is made up for the benefit of certain people. >> you mention health care, the people helped by it most are not voters and that calls into question are we responsible for our brothers and how would you address the issue of those who do not want to have that role and a book about community, government and community. is there anything you can contribute to how that can be sold or is it by we capable --
>> here is my sales pitch for the health care bill for the requirement that everybody in this country has health insurance and we help those who can't afford it themselves. this is not like asparagus. if somebody gets sick and they don't have health care we don't wheat among the side of the road to die. if a state has that policy i would like to know about it and have them stand up and defend it. we pay in other ways for health care for people who don't have health insurance. it is not like anything else in the world. part of the total community responsibility but in return is the responsibility of every person to do what they can to provide health insurance for themselves. sins the easiest thing to do would be the to the european system where everyone is covered and the state has a plan and we will never go there in my lifetime. we have to think about it that way. i am really tired of people
arguing that people don't need to have health insurance because it is their right to decide just like it is their right to go shopping for asparagus. i am tired of arguments that we don't need health care because it is up to every state to decide how to do these things. as long as we agree that nobody dies by the side of the road this is a national problem. [applause] >> i saw a documentary about bottled water and how they highlighted a plant in texas. and there is a segment a few weeks ago about chicken farms, and it is polluting the land and water and air. how can texans 8 government on one hand but because of lack of regulation are killing
themselves on the other hand. >> there's nothing more empty. i have never been to alaska until reasonably recently and how did those elections not want to protect our glorious wilderness. when you go to alaska there is so much glorious wilderness that you tend to think this little bit here. there's that sense that there's all this space and you can screw it up that much. nobody should bother me on my land and don't want to regulate business and this is how they got to be -- if you look at the environmental indicators they are always the worst for the second worst for the third
worst. is an empty stage thing. and empty state division of the common good. bad as all i can say. thank you. >> you have written in your columns as many liberals have about the dangers of increasing privatisation of what was formerly referred to as civic good so that the pressure on public education to become private is so great and that is only one thing you can describe. cities sell enough highways and rahm emanuel has a plan to revitalize the city with private help. i wondered what you think of that and whether that is a good model or there is something we could concede to because it is so inevitable or should we fight
it or something? >> it is inevitable that some things will get privatized the way things ago and i find generally when people talk about the glories of privatisation the things they point to most are physical facilities like a road or something. they got the road to build. even they're all i can say is the one that most worries me right now is the schools. it just doesn't make any sense to me and there is something that can be done without some of this stuff fairly easily. there are a number of states right now thinking about or have passed legislation that makes it impossible for a private organization to make money by running a public school. and limits charters to genuine on profits as opposed to something that linda its name to something the private sector wants to do. that is to me the most critical.
the second is many of the states are joining together under an initiative the obama administration is starting to establish national standards for education. if you can hit national standards and two or three sets of tests that you can choose among the cost of testing is going to plummet. the profits for the testing companies will plummet too. really sorry about that but that is the way life is. if you can do stuff like that and figure out ways to get the states to voluntarily work together on some of these issues and the credit of the obama administration they are moving farther than i would have thought they would. texas is not taking part in the national -- those two things i would suggest and every case is different and there are some things that are done better than a private company but they would not improve schools for sure. >> time for one more quick
question. >> something that disturbs me about conservatives and that is the fact that the income distribution has gone out of whack in the next 40 years and middle-class incomes have leveled off and the upper incomes have really skyrocketed -- >> say one thing about that. arguments for -- unions. the decline of union membership in this country is close to the decline of middle-class standards and unions have either a terrible reputation among the non-union and multitude less nonunion households in this country. the unions and public in general have got to think about this issue because as the unions are dying the way and it is not good
just to have public employee unions and not private employee unions. very bad balance. as unions' drive away the money number of private sector is -- you -- that would be my fought for the day. [applause] >> we are out of time right on the money and i am so excited we got through this without a single mention of mitt romney's dog. thank you. great to have you. [applause] >> every weekend booktv offers 48 hours of programming focused on nonfiction authors and books. watch it here on c-span2. >> our next author interview at
the campus of usc is basketball great kareem abdul-jabbar whose latest book project is a children's book, "what color is my world?: the lost history of african-american inventors". tell me about this. >> it started -- it has its roots in public that in 1996 which was an overview of black history in america and one of the chapters that i wrote i focused on lewis howard latimer who invented what made the light bulb a practical invention and in checking out what different inventors did in the nineteenth century, made me aware of the fact that there are a lot of black inventors people didn't know anything about so i got the germ of the idea from that experience. i figured i would do a book on inventors and related to
children, and -- >> end gaming and videos. why the vehicle of a book to get children dressed in a story you want to tell. >> a book has the ability to reach them on different levels, lot more in depth and random access and they can go to any part of it physically -- >> there are flip out pages with biographies of the inventors and i am sure you -- trying to decide what would be in the book. how did people make the cut? >> wanted to pick people who were important to everyday life. the bread machine or food presentation or food refrigeration or the fact that
nowadays you can ship food around the world and refrigerated food transport. that was an idea first thought of by a black american. all of these inventions affect our lives. light bulb is obvious but there are so many other inventions in their. look at all the lives that have been saved because of blood typing and the blood bank. for all of our lives. most people don't understand that black americans were crucial in figuring these out. >> host: the super soaker, the big sports done. how did that make the list? >> guest: so many kids play with and not aware who invented it. and 3d is such an important aspect of child communication
and dr. valerie thomas worked out the template that most people doing 3d now are using for that application. >> host: programs here are interactive so you can call if you would like to talk to kareem abdul-jabbar about his writing. this is your seventh book. first one back in 1983, the questions about the writing and his book project and why he does them and what life as an author is like and other accomplishments in life and phone-number on the bottom of the screen. they look through the list -- why is that? >> picked dr. thomas because what she did was so significant. other women inventors of course bu